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Publication #FCS5251

Elder Companion Lesson 5: Home Maintenance and Safety1

Elizabeth B. Bolton and Muthusami Kumaran 2

The Elder Companion training program is designed to train people interested in becoming employed by local service providers as sitter/companions for the elderly. The objective of the program is to help participants develop the necessary skills to provide high-quality care including: assistance with daily living activities (DLAs), home management services, and companionship for the elderly adult.

This training course is preparatory to studying to become a certified nursing assistant (CNA).

For an overview of the training course, see FCS5246/FY586.

In the Elder Companion training program, the following topics are addressed:

  • Elder Companion Lesson 1: Roles and Responsibilities

  • Elder Companion Lesson 2: Aging

  • Elder Companion Lesson 3: Communication

  • Elder Companion Lesson 4: Nutrition

  • Elder Companion Lesson 5: Home Maintenance and Safety

  • Elder Companion Lesson 6: Stress Management

  • Elder Companion Lesson 7: Time Management

  • Elder Companion Lesson 8: Leisure Activities

  • Elder Companion Lesson 9: Getting a Job

In addition to the nine topics, which are taught as Lessons 1 through 9 in a classroom setting, training program participants will be required to make a field observation at an elder care facility. An Agent's guide and observation form are provided in Attachment 1.

Agent's Teaching Guide

Home Maintenance and Safety

Part 1: What is Clean?

Part 2: Organizing for Cleanliness

Part 3: Managing the Laundry

Part 4: Safety

Time: 2 to 3 1/2 Hours

Instructor: county faculty and person who works doing home maintenance

Equipment/Supplies: overhead projector; variety of cleaning and laundry products (boxes, bottles, etc.); variety of cleaning tools (clean white cloths, sponges, squeegees, dust pan, etc); variety of linens/garments for examples of care labels; transparencies created from handouts: A, B, E, J, and L through Q

Background Information

Cleaning

Laundry

Handouts:

Part 1

  • Handout A: Clean? Safe?

  • Handout B: What Influences Your Standards for Comfort, Order, and Cleanliness?

  • Handout C: Keeping a Home Clean - How Much Does It Matter?

Part 2

  • Handout D: Match the Tool to the Job

  • Handout E: Cautions about Certain Cleaning Products

  • Handout F: How to Clean?

  • Handout G: House Cleaning Plan

  • Handout H: Household Cleaning Schedule

  • Handout I: Weekly Plan for Household Cleaning Tasks

Part 3

  • Handout J: Nine Basic Steps to Good Laundering

  • Handout K: What Is My Purpose?

  • Handout L: Following Directions

  • Handout M: Water Temperatures

  • Handout N: Preparing Laundry

  • Handout O: Sorting Laundry

  • Handout P: Pre-treating Laundry

  • Handout Q: A First Aid Kit for Clothing

Part 4

  • Handout R: Household Safety Checklist

  • Handout S: Check Sheet on Kitchen Hazards

Objectives (Expected Outcomes):

Participants will be able to:

  • Identify a logical order for performing tasks to save time and energy.

  • Demonstrate correct procedures for basic household cleaning tasks performed daily, weekly, monthly, and occasionally.

  • Demonstrate correct procedures for selection, use, care and storage of supplies and equipment.

  • Describe how the spread of disease is controlled in the home in relationship to kitchens, bathrooms, laundry, dusting, and food handling.

  • Identify safety measures necessary for maintaining a safe environment such as clear traffic, loose rugs, and electrical and safety cords.

Background Information: Cleaning

Cleaning Tools

Cleaning is made easier, as is any job, if you have the proper tools.

  • Clean, soft white, cotton cloth. Especially useful are terry-cloth toweling and an old tee shirt. This type of cloth is more absorbent than others. You will also need sponges. Use these for cleaning sinks, windows, appliances, spills, etc.

  • Scrub brushes with nylon bristles. This type of brush will be more durable and will dry quicker than a natural bristle brush. You may need different types of brushes for different tasks. The bristle length and width determine a brush's stiffness and softness. Scrubbing a wall would take a softer brush. You may need an old toothbrush to clean out hard to reach corners.

  • A squeegee works well to clean windows.

  • A dustpan in which to sweep spills and dust and dirt.

  • Sponge mop to mop the floor.

  • One or two plastic buckets, large enough to get your sponge mop in so mopping the floor is easy.

  • Whisk broom to sweep the floor.

  • Dust mop to dust the floor or your ceiling and walls.

  • Rubber gloves to protect your hands from chemicals.

  • A vacuum cleaner is perfect to get the dust and dirt out of your carpet, chairs, and couch. A vacuum cleaner with attachments is handier if you have one.

  • A cleaning caddy is to keep all tools together. A cleaning caddy is also helpful to put your cleaning supplies in so that you always have them together when you start to work.

Cleaning Products

After you have your cleaning tools together, you are ready to select your cleaning supplies. But, have you seen how many different cleaning supplies are on the store's shelves? How confusing! To make it less confusing and less expensive, I will show you some common ingredients that are used in cleansers. These products can be purchased at a lesser price compared to some brand name products and still do a good job.

Cleaners come in two forms: liquid and powder. The compositions may be either alkali or acid. Alkalies are soluble in water and neutralize acids and form salts with them. Acids are chemical compounds that have a sour taste and are sometimes caustic. Acids neutralize alkalis. Some are mild for light cleaning jobs, and some are heavy duty for tough cleaning jobs.

Baking soda is a gentle multipurpose cleaner. It will not scratch appliances and counter tops. It removes oily dirt. It is an alkali. Baking soda can be used to:

  • clean burned food spots on porcelain, and enamel cookware

  • clean ranges, refrigerators, and other appliances

  • remove odors from carpets

  • clean and deodorize cutting boards

  • absorb odors from refrigerators

  • clean and freshen drains

  • put out kitchen fire

Ammonia is a little stronger cleaner than baking soda. It is also an alkali.

Household ammonia is used to clean kitchen range burners, ovens, windows, and mirrors.

Sudsy ammonia has soap or detergent added. You use this to clean garbage cans, kitchen range burners, and sinks.

Another medium cleaner is Borax. This is an alkali and cleans woodwork, walls, and sinks.

Bleaches remove stains. Chlorine bleaches are also disinfectants, kill germs. Chlorine bleach is used in laundry as a fabric whitener, stain remover (for white and light colored fabrics), and is also a disinfectant.

White vinegar is a mild cleaner and is a good grease cutter. Lemon juice is similar to vinegar. Cream of tartar is also a mild cleaner. These three cleaners are mild acids.

Vinegar can be used to clean windows, chrome, and other metals. It removes rust from around sinks and bathtubs. To clear drains, heat 1 cup of vinegar, pour down drain, and flush down with hot water. It removes soap film on faucets. If used as a window cleaner, mix 2-4 tablespoons of vinegar to 2 quarts of water.

Cream of tartar cleans coffee makers and aluminum.

Sanitizers kill germs which can cause skin, respiratory, intestinal, and kidney infections. They also kill odors. A common sanitizer is liquid chlorine bleach. Other trade name sanitizers are Pine-Sol and Lysol Brand Disinfectant. Sanitizers are used when cleaning tubs, showers, toilet bowls, bathroom sinks, ceramic, and plastic tiles.

CAUTIONS ABOUT CERTAIN PRODUCTS

When using alkalis, be careful. Some are POISONOUS, some are CORROSIVE, and others can IRRITATE and BURN SKIN AND EYES. When using these to clean, WEAR GLOVES.

SAFETY

Most cleaning products today are not dangerous unless they are misused.

Remember to:

  • Keep out of reach of children.

  • Keep in original containers.

  • Follow directions.

What and How to Clean

Now that you know some of the household cleaners that can be used, you are ready to learn some things that are important to keep clean in your home. Keeping the following appliances and fixtures clean will help prevent spreading germs. If these germs are kept under control, a family has a better chance of staying healthy.

Kitchens

It is very important to keep the kitchen as clean as possible so that germs do not find a place to grow. To do this, you can clean as you go.

The sink in your kitchen can be cleaned after each use by washing down the sides with your dish cloth and rinsing with cold water. Make sure you empty the drain plug and wash and rinse it. As needed, you should use sudsy ammonia or a brand name product to clean your sink. (At least once a week; preferably two or three times.)

Cutting boards are a place where germs grow, especially after cutting raw meats. Clean cutting boards after each use with hot, sudsy water and allow to air dry.

Can openers should also be washed in hot, sudsy water after each use. Food gets trapped around the cutting wheel. Remove the cutting wheel from electric can openers for cleaning.

Another area to prevent germ (bacteria) growth is in the garbage can. As soon as it is full, the garbage should be put outside in a trash can or bagged for disposal. In the kitchen it is best to use a plastic liner or paper sack to line the trash can. Lining the trash can makes cleanup easier.

After each meal, dishes should be washed with hot, soapy water, rinsed, and dried. Dirty dishes provide a place for germs to start to grow.

Clean the cupboard at least every six months. To do this, use hot, sudsy water and a sponge, Take the sponge and wipe out every shelf and drawer, then with clear water, wipe the shelves and drawers again. By cleaning cupboards and drawers you are preventing a problem with unwanted bugs (insects). You should also throw out any containers that are infested. All foods should be sealed or in airtight containers. If you do not have airtight containers, plastic bags with twist ties work well.

Refrigerators and Freezers

Refrigerators and freezers need to be cleaned periodically. You should clean your freezer when a buildup of frost is 1/4 inch thick. By removing the frost, your freezer will operate more efficiently. Most modern refrigerator/freezers are “frost free.” However, some older models may require you to manually remove the frost. To defrost a freezer you need to:
  • Remove all contents from the freezer

  • Turn off temperature controls, put hot pans of water in the freezer and allow the heat from the water to thaw the frost (repeat if necessary).

  • Place pans in the refrigerator to catch the melting water.

  • After all the frost is thawed, empty the water and clean the interior of your refrigerator with hot, sudsy water and a clean cotton cloth (remove the racks and hydrator drawers and wash in the kitchen sink, remembering to watch the door gasket.)

  • Use clear water and wipe out again and towel dry.

  • Once every six months you need to wash the drain pan, using the same procedure as above.

  • Vacuum the refrigerator's coils.

  • Wash exterior, including handles, with sudsy water. Rinse and towel dry.

Weekly you should go through the foods in your refrigerator and throw out any food that is spoiling. Wipe up any spills that have occurred.

To clean ranges, start with removing all cooking elements, drip pans, trim rings, and control knobs. Wash drip pans, trim rings and control knobs in soapy water or if they are very dirty, use an ammonia solution. Cooking elements do not need to be cleaned. Lift the cook top and vacuum to collect crumbs and dust. Then use a sponge and soapy water to clean. If there are baked on spots, use a nylon scrub pad dampened in ammonia.

To clean the oven, remove the door for easier access if possible. Then remove the racks and wash the same as the drip pans. With sudsy ammonia solution, wipe out the oven (½ cup sudsy ammonia and 1 gallon of water), and then wipe out with clear water. Some newer model ovens are self-cleaning. Follow the manufacturer's instructions to clean.

Last, but not least, remove the bottom drawer and wipe out with soapy water and rinse. Remember to vacuum the floor.

If you have a gas range, follow the same steps except wash the gas burner and let it dry completely before replacing. Remove the broiler and clean.

Bathrooms

In the bathroom, clean the sink and bathtub/shower after every use. To do this, wipe down the walls with your wash cloth and rinse with clear water.

Daily, the sink should be cleaned with a sanitizer and rinsed with clear water. A sponge works best in these areas.

The previous procedure should be used on your bathtub or shower at least weekly or more frequently if it is necessary.

A sanitizer should be used weekly to clean your toilet bowl. Follow the directions that are given on your sanitizer container. After you clean the toilet bowl with a long-handled brush, use a sponge and soapy water to clean the toilet seat and exterior of the toilet. Rinse with clear water and towel dry.

If you use a rubber or vinyl bath mat (to prevent slipping), clean with a brush and mild bleach solution. You can do this by hand or in the washing machine.

Part 1: What is Clean?

Introduction:

Show overhead transparency created from Handout A, Clean? Safe? Distribute the handout and ask the class, “ If someone took a picture of your kitchen, how would it look? Like this? Would you want to share this picture with your best friend or relative? Why? Why not?” Tell them, “Today we are going to talk about housecleaning. A clean and sanitary house is important to the health and well-being of an elderly person.”

DO:

  • Ask the questions, "What influences how you keep your home?" "How orderly and clean do you keep it?" List the answers in a prominent place.

  • Show overhead transparency from created from Handout B, What Influences your Standards For Comfort, Order, and Cleanliness? Distribute the handout and discuss.

  • Give each participant a copy of Handout C, Keeping A Home Clean - How Much Does It Matter? to complete.

REFLECT:

  • What are some things that influence your standards for comfort, order and cleanliness? Standards of relatives, friends, time, your hobbies, creative talents, human energy, home care skills, health, and safety, money, and media.

  • How do your standards affect the cleaning you do as an elder companion?

  • How do standards of the elder person affect you?

  • What standards are probably of primary concern to the elderly person?

  • What happens when you do not agree on the standards? How can it be resolved?

APPLY

  • Give each participant an additional copy of Handout C, Keeping A Home Clean for their elder to complete. Discuss the differences and make a plan to compromise.

Handout A: Clean? Safe?

Figure 1. 

Handout B: What Influences Your Standards for Comfort, Order, and Cleanliness?

Figure 2. 

Handout C: Keeping a Home Clean - How Much Does it Matter?

Table 1. 
 

Strongly Agree

Agree

Strongly Disagree

Disagree

No Opinion

A home cannot be too clean.

         

Cleaning is fun.

         

It is easier to keep a home clean today than it was several years ago.

         

Some clutter makes a home look "lived in" and comfortable.

         

Cleaning takes too much time.

         

You can judge other people by the way they keep their home.

         

Every person in a home should be allowed to decide how neat to keep his or her room.

         

The homes shown on television shows are too neat to be comfortable.

         

Every member of a family should help keep a home in order.

         

Part 2: Organizing for Cleanliness

Activity 1: Tools to Do the Job

Introduction:

Regardless of our standards for cleanliness, we have to be organized to get the job done in a reasonable amount of time. One key part of organization is having the correct tools available.

DO:

  • Display various cleaning tools and ask clients to use Handout D, Match the Tool to the Job sheet to identify use.

REFLECT:

  • Review each tool and its use using the Match the Tool to the Job sheet.

  • Are there any tools that you have never used? If yes, involve participants in demonstrating the various tools.

APPLY:

  • How will you use this information for the work as an elder companion?

Handout D: Match the Tool to the Job

Table 2. 

Draw a line between the tool in the left column and its use in the right column.

TOOLS

USE

clean soft, white cotton cloth, such as terry cloth towels/old tee shirt

carries supplies

scrub brushes with nylon bristles

removes dirt out of carpet and chairs

vacuum cleaner

cleans sinks, windows, spills

plastic bucket

protects hands

dust pan

wet and rinse mops

whisk broom

sweeps floors

mop

cleans vinyl or tile floors

rubber gloves

collects dirt and dust

cleaning tray or caddy

cleans toilets

Activity 1: Cleaning Agents to Do the Job

Introduction:

Keeping your home clean and free of household hazards is important to the health of your elder–client. This involves knowing the correct cleaning agents to use. There are so many on the market that making a decision on the right product is difficult.

DO:

  • Complete Match The Cleaner With Its Use

  • Display various cleaning supplies which are used to do housecleaning and sanitation.

  • Distribute cards with uses for the cleaners and have participants match with cleaner.

REFLECT:

  • Review the placements and be sure everyone has the correct information.

DO:

  • Distribute Handout E, Cautions About Certain Cleaning Products. Use transparency created from Handout E to discuss the cautions about certain products and safety concerns.

REFLECT:

  • What are the precautions to be followed?

  • Are there specific products which show extra danger?

APPLY:

  • How will you use this information in your work with elders?

"Match the Cleaner with its Use" Cards

Table 3. 

Baking soda

freshens drains, absorbs odors from refrigerator, and puts out kitchen fires

Household ammonia

clean kitchen range burners, ovens, windows, and mirrors

Sudsy ammonia

clean garbage cans, ranges, and sinks

Borax

cleans woodwork, walls, and sinks

Bleaches

remove stains

Chlorine bleaches

disinfectant; in laundry as a fabric whitener, stain remover, and disinfectant

White vinegar

cuts grease, cleans windows and chrome

Sanitizers

use on tubs, showers, toilet bowls, and bathroom sinks

Handout E: Cautions about Certain Cleaning Products

CAUTIONS ABOUT CERTAIN PRODUCTS

  • When using alkalies, be careful.

  • Some are POISONOUS.

  • Some are CORROSIVE.

  • Some can IRRITATE and BURN SKIN AND EYES.

  • Wear GLOVES.

SAFETY

Most cleaning products today are not dangerous unless they are misused.

Remember to:

  • Keep out of reach of children.

  • Keep in original containers.

  • Follow directions.

Activity 1: How to Clean

Introduction:

Now that you know some of the household cleaners that you can use to clean with, you are ready to learn about the two most important areas to keep clean: kitchens and bathrooms. If these areas are kept under control, your family has a better chance of staying healthy.

DO:

  • Take each area/equipment in the kitchen and bathroom, and have clients demonstrate the cleaning task, the cleaning agent/tool and tell the frequency. Participants can work in teams.

  • Have the group complete Handout F, the How to Clean worksheet.

REFLECT:

  • What are the two most important areas to keep clean?

Kitchens and Bathrooms

  • What did you learn new about cleanliness and sanitation?

APPLY:

  • How will you use this information in your work with elders?

Handout F: How to Clean?

Table 4. 

Area/Equipment

What to be Done

Cleaning Agent/Tool

Frequency

Kitchen Sink

Wash down sides and drain plug

Sudsy ammonia and cloth

At least once/week

Cutting Boards

     

Can Opener

     

Garbage Can

     

Dirty Dishes

     

Refrigerator/freezer

     

Range

     

Oven

     

Bathroom Sink

     

Bathtub/shower

     

Toilet Bowl

     

Bath Mat

     

Activity 2: Organizing to Get the Job Done

Introduction:

Now that we have some knowledge and experience with cleaning tools, products and the tasks to be done, it is time to talk about organizing to get the job done efficiently and correctly.

DO:

  • Use the General Guidelines information sheet to discuss some basic principles about getting the job done.

  • Divide the group into teams of three or four. Give each group a set of Cleaning Task Cards and a diagram of the major cleaning areas. Have participants sort the cleaning tasks into daily and weekly jobs for each cleaning area.

REFLECT:

  • What are the daily and weekly jobs to be done in the kitchen? Bathroom? Living/ Dining room and bedroom?

APPLY:

  • How will you use this information in your work as an elder companion?

DO:

  • Role-play client meeting - It is helpful to have some tools to establish the agreement with the elderly clients.

  • Review Handout G, House Cleaning Plan, Handout H, Household Cleaning Schedule and the Handout I, Weekly Plan for Household Cleaning Tasks.

  • Ask for two volunteers - one to be the elderly client and one to be the companion/sitter. Have them use the House Cleaning Plan, Household Cleaning Schedule, and the Weekly Plan for Household Cleaning Tasks for a discussion about a plan for cleaning.

REFLECT:

  • What did you observe? Would you pursue the conversation differently? How?

  • Were they successful in reaching an agreement?

APPLY:

  • How will this help your work with elderly clients?

  • How will this help you be better organized at home?

Housekeeping Tasks-Rules of Organization

General Guidelines

  • Cleaning is easier if you have a plan, but be flexible.

  • Not every job has to be done every day: some jobs are weekly, others are just once in a while.

  • Do not try to do too many “special” jobs on the same day.

  • Learn to do each cleaning job the right way - basically top to bottom to prevent streaking.

  • Try out little tricks to make cleaning easier for you. Take fewer steps, try to reach and bend and stoop as little as you have to. When you find the most comfortable way to do a job–and still do it right–that is the best way for you.

  • Collect all the cleaning supplies and tools you will need for each job. Keep them handy to the place where you are working. A basic set of cleaning tools should include two types:

– those needed to soften and remove soil that has dried and hardened on washable surfaces (wet mops, pails, toilet brushes, sponges.)

– those needed for removing dry dirt and dust (vacuum cleaner and attachments, carpet sweeper, dust mop, dust cloths, floor broom, brush, and dustpan.)

  • Carry your cleaning supplies in a basket with a handle or in any cart that you can roll. Then they can be transported quickly and easily.

Job Scheduling - Daily Jobs

  • Kitchen

- Wash dishes.

- Clean off tables and counters.

- Clean stove top and inside spills.

- Empty trash.

- Clean sink.

- Sweep floor.

  • Bathroom

- Empty wastebaskets.

- Wash sinks and toilets.

- Wet-mop floor as necessary.

  • Bedroom

- Air beds and make them up.

- Put clothes away or into wash.

- Straighten room and empty trash.

- Dry-mop floor.

- Dust furniture and window sills.

  • Living and Dining Room(s)

- Tidy up, throw out papers, empty wastebaskets.

- Dust furniture and window sills.

- Clean up crumbs under and around table.

Weekly Jobs:

  • Kitchen

- Clean out refrigerator and wash inside and outside. Do this the day before weekly shopping.

- Give the stove a thorough washing, inside and outside.

- Scrub the floor with hot, sudsy water and hot rinse water.

  • Bathroom

- Use toilet-bowl cleaner, then scrub toilet bowl with the toilet brush and hot, sudsy water.

- Wash mirrors.

- Clean tub and/or shower.

- Remove any accumulated mildew with mild bleach/water solution and scrub brush.

- Check soap dishes and replace as needed.

- Wash and scrub the floor.

- Launder the bath mat and the bathroom rug.

  • Bedrooms

- Open the closet doors, so the clothes can air out.

- Put clean linens on the bed.

- Vacuum rugs, carpets, and floors.

- Use sponge or cloth squeezed out of sudsy water to clean fingerprints off walls, woodwork, and light switches.

- Dust furniture, light fixtures, lamps, books, and small things.

  • Living and Dining Rooms

- Sweep or vacuum carpet or rug.

- Use sponge or cloth squeezed out of sudsy water to clean fingerprints off walls, woodwork, and light switches.

- Dust furniture, light fixtures, lamps, books, and small items such as knick knacks.

Cleaning Tasks Cards

Table 5. 

wash dishes

clean off tables and counter

clean sink

empty trash

sweep floor

clean sinks

air beds and make them up

put clothes away or in wash

tidy up/throw out papers

clean up crumbs around table

clean out refrigerator

mop the floors (vinyl or tile)

clean the stove

clean bath tub/shower

scrub the toilet bowl

wash mirrors dust furniture

put clean linens on the bed

vacuum rugs and carpets

dust furniture, light fixtures, and lamps

open closets to air clothes

Cleaning Areas

Kitchen:
________________________________________
________________________________________
________________________________________
________________________________________
________________________________________
________________________________________
Bathroom:
________________________________________
________________________________________
________________________________________
________________________________________
________________________________________
________________________________________
Bedroom:
________________________________________
________________________________________
________________________________________
________________________________________
________________________________________
________________________________________
Living/Dining Room:
________________________________________
________________________________________
________________________________________
________________________________________
________________________________________
________________________________________

Handout G: House Cleaning Plan

Table 6. 

Housecleaning Jobs I Have Been Asked to Do

Jobs I Can Do

   
   
   
   
   
 

Most Important Home Maintenance Jobs

Estimated Time to Complete Jobs

How Often

     
     
     
     

Jobs the client can help complete?

Supplies/Equipment Needed

If Available

   
   
   
   

Handout H: Household Cleaning Schedule

Table 7. 
Along with your employer, identify the areas which are to be cleaned and indicate the frequency.

Area to be cleaned

Daily

Weekly

As Needed

Seasonally

Kitchen

       

Bathroom

       

Living room

       

Bedroom

       

Other

       

Handout I: Weekly Plan for Household Cleaning Tasks

Table 8. 

Day

Task

When to be done

When completed

       
       
       
       
       
       

Part 3: Managing the Laundry

Introduction:

As an elder companion, sitter, or homemaker, you may be asked to do the laundry on a regular basis and/or in emergency situations. Doing the laundry is important to stopping the spread of germs and keeping linens and/or garments useable in the future. Today, we are going to learn some of the basic principles of doing laundry, stain removal, and the products available to assist you.

Doing laundry involves a whole system. The interacting parts are the operator, the fabrics or clothing to be washed, the soil to be removed and the water, detergent, and machine in which the clothes are washed. Your part as the operator is the most important because you are the one who makes the decisions about all the other factors.

DO:

  • Review the Laundry Background Information and discuss with participants.

  • Ask the class to identify what are some of the steps that they follow to get the best results from their laundry. Record their answers on a chalkboard and/or flip charts.

  • Show the transparency created from Handout J, Nine Basic Steps to Good Laundering to summarize their responses. Distribute Handout J to participants.

  • Divide the group into teams of 2 or 3 and give them the General Laundry Procedures Sequencing Cards. Ask them to put the cards in the correct order, then let each group share their sequence and display the correct sequence.

REFLECT:

  • How does your usual practice in doing laundry compare these general laundry procedures?

  • Are there practices that you need to change?

  • Preparing and pre-treating linens and clothing is essential to successfully doing the laundry. It is a step that we are often tempted to omit but is worth the time.

DO:

  • Have a variety of linens and/or garments available for perticipants to look at the care labels. Make a list of what they find and discuss how they will be important to doing the laundry.

  • Give the participants a copy of Handout K, What Is My Purpose? and have them identify the product and its use. Review their decisions and discuss each item, noting any corrections which need to be made.

  • Display the various types of laundry products discussed in the background basics. Give each participant or team a different product. Have them Read Directions Carefully and have them identify what is on the label. Show transparency created from Handout L, Following Directions. Give each participants a copy of Handout L and discuss their findings.

  • Using the same selection of linens/garments, have the participants determine the laundry products needed to properly wash each piece. Discuss their choices.

  • Along with laundry products there is the decision of water temperatures. Show the transparency created from Handout M, Water Temperatures, to discuss different water temperatures and why each is used. Give each participant a copy of Handout M. Have them consult their garment labels to determine the correct temperature.

  • Preparing clothes for laundering is a step many of us are tempted to omit, but it is well worth the time it takes. Mending rips and tears before washing prevents further damage. Show the transparency created from Handout N, Preparing Laundry. Distribute a copy of Handout N to each participant and discuss preparing clothes for laundering.

  • Sorting is an important step in the process of doing laundry. Show the transparency created from Handout O, Sorting Laundry, to highlight the important reasons to sort clothing. Give each participant a copy of Handout O. Using the same selection of linens/garments, have the participants sort the items for doing the laundry. Check their sorting against the reasons presented.

  • Improper stain removal can ruin linens and/or garments and make them no longer useable. This step is often called “pre-treating.” Show the transparency created from Handout P, Pre-treating Laundry, to discuss the three general ways of doing stain removal. Distribute a copy of Handout P to each participants. The secret with most stains is to treat them immediately. Use the linens/garments and have the participants look for stains which might be present. Create a new stain with grape juice and help them remove it.

  • Show the transparency created from Handout Q, A First Aid Kit for Clothing. Distribute a copy of Handout Q to each participant and discuss the products listed that will be useful in the stain removal process.

REFLECT:

  • We have spent time on all the steps leading up to doing the laundry. What is left is actually using the washing machine and dryer to do the laundry.

  • What are some things that you have learned today?

  • What are the general procedures you need to remember in doing the laundry?

APPLY:

  • How will you use this information as an elder companion, sitter, or homemaker?

  • How can you use this information with your own family?

Background Information: Laundry

Home laundering has become physically easier over the years, but the mental side of laundering has become more difficult. The amount of information to be considered is increasing and what was once thought to be the correct way to launder clothes may no longer work. Many people who have been doing laundry for years are wondering why they are having problems.

Laundering involves a whole system. The interacting parts are the operator, the fabrics or clothing to be washed, the soil to be removed and the water, detergent and machine in which the clothes are washed. Operators are the most important because they are the ones who make the decisions about all the other factors.

As we get ready to do the laundry, what are some of the steps we take to get the best results:

  • Sort carefully

  • Pre-treat before washing

  • Use correct wash temperature

  • Use right type and amount of laundry products

  • Know the washer and how to use it

  • Use correct washing action

  • Rinse clothes thoroughly

  • Dry clothes properly

  • Hang or fold clothes neatly

Preparing and Pre-treating Clothes

Preparing clothes for laundering is a step many of us are tempted to omit, but it is well worth the time it takes. Mending rips and tears before washing prevents further damage. Pre-treating spots and stains has become a necessity because of the changes in detergents and the increased use of synthetic fabrics that do not release soil easily.

To prepare clothes for laundering:

  • close zippers, and hooks and eyes

  • shake out loose dirt; check pockets and cuffs

  • mend rips and tears

  • turn permanent press garments inside out to prevent pilling and linting

  • remove non-washable items, such as belts

To pre-treat clothes before laundering:

  • Always remove spots and stains. Use a pre-wash spray for some or refer to a stain removal chart for more difficult ones. Rub liquid detergent into heavily soiled areas.

  • Pre-soak heavily soiled items. Use a pre-soak product for 30 minutes or overnight. Drain the soak water and wash as usual.

Sorting Clothes

Sorting clothes can help avoid some laundry problems. Group items together that can be washed in the same water temperature and agitation. Sort by:

  • Color - separate whites from all colors

  • Fabric, construction, texture - read care instructions. Delicate fabrics need gentle agitation. Permanent press need special cycles to prevent wrinkling. Separate lint givers, such as terry cloth, from lint takers, such as synthetics or corduroy.

  • Degree of soil - wash lightly soiled items separately from heavily soiled ones

Choosing Laundry Products

Detergents serve three main purposes: to make water wetter, to loosen and remove soil from clothes and to hold soil and lint in suspension in the wash water until it is drained away.

Laundry Products

Always use the recommended amount found on the package and follow directions for use of the product. Also, carefully follow the directions found on the care label of the garment.

Soap: Use only if very soft water (in Florida you will not have soft water unless it has been treated, since we have hard to very hard water). Soap combines with hard water minerals and forms a lime curd. Cleaning is reduced and a dingy buildup occurs. Check label on garments to see if it negates flame retardant finish.

Detergent: Adjust amount used for degree of soil, water hardness and load size. Detergents come in both liquid and powder form. Check label concerning which will maintain the flame-retardant finishes.

Bleach: Used to whiten, deodorize, and disinfect. Use bleach to kill bacteria. Removes some stains. Always check label as to whether to use chlorine or oxygen bleach.

Enzyme Presoaks: Used for presoaking prior to washing. They are effective on stains such as milk, eggs, vomit, and urine.

Pre-wash: Helps remove oily stains

Fabric Softeners: Softens fabrics, eliminates static electricity, but reduces absorbency of towels, so only use every third or fourth time.

Stains in Washable Garments

Always treat stains immediately by flushing with cool water. Be sure stains are completely removed before drying, since heat can permanently set stains.

Fruits, fruit juices, vegetables: Flush, then soak in cool water. Rub with detergent and launder with detergent and appropriate bleach in the hottest water recommended for fabric. Air dry until you know the stain has been removed.

Mildew: Launder with detergent and chlorine bleach (unless contrary to care label on garment). Heavy mildew stains are often impossible to remove.

Urine: Flush, then soak in cool water. Rub with detergent or laundry bar soap. Launder as usual. If stain remains, apply a few drops of household ammonia in one cup warm water. Rinse thoroughly. Let dry. Soaking in an enzyme presoak may also help.

Food: Flush, then soak in cool water. Rub detergent into stain while still wet. Launder in the hottest water recommended using bleach, unless instructions on garment label prohibit the use of hot water.

Vitamins/medicines: Flush. Rub detergent into dampened stain or use a special pre-treat product. Launder in the hottest water safe for garment, using bleach (if safe for garment). If stain persists, sponge thoroughly with a safe cleaning fluid. Rinse thoroughly. Let dry, then launder again.

Dye Transfer: Sometimes color transfers from one garment to another. If this happens then you immediately need to remove it. DO NOT dry. Immediately flush with cool water. Rub with heavy duty detergent. Soak in detergent and appropriate bleach. Launder as usual. An enzyme presoak may help. On white items, a color remover may be useful.

NEVER MIX AMMONIA OR DRY-CLEANING FLUIDS WITH CHLORINE BLEACH BECAUSE THEY WILL RELEASE HAZARDOUS GASES. ALWAYS USE DRY-CLEANING SOLVENTS ON DRY GARMENTS IN A WELL-VENTILATED AREA.

Sanitizing Laundry

Is your laundry as clean as it can be? Research has shown that a suitable disinfectant used during home laundering can prevent or reduce bacterial infections originating from clothing or household textiles. Such a disinfectant is often necessary because bacteria can remain alive through home laundering. Bacteria can remain alive through home laundering. They also can remain alive on the inside of a washing machine and can be transferred from one load of wash to another. Therefore, if many families are using one washer, it is possible for the bacteria to spread.

When there is sickness in the family or you share laundry facilities, it has been suggested by microbiologists, (scientists), to use a disinfectant with every load of wash. Note: Chlorine bleach cannot be used with colored or certain types of synthetic fabrics. Use another type of disinfectant, such as Lysol®.

When using a disinfectant always:

-read the label
-follow directions and precautions
-measure carefully
-add disinfectant to recommended wash or rinse cycle

Other Laundry Hints

  • Sanitize washing machines occasionally. If you use a laundromat, sanitize before each use. To sanitize home washer, pour disinfectant (½ cup) into washer and wash for 15 minutes in hot water. Complete cycle. In laundromat washers, wipe out with cloth using chlorine bleach and rinse with or wipe with water after about 10 seconds. This will prevent the bleach from coming in contact with colored clothes or linens. Wear gloves.

  • Wash your lint traps frequently with hot water and soap. Bacteria can build up here.

  • Sort dirty clothes and clean clothes at different time and different areas.

  • Try not to shake dirty clothes–this spreads bacteria.

  • Wash clothes at the hottest temperature recommended for the fabric.

  • Automatic dryers and line drying kill some but not all bacteria.

All measures that reduce the number of bacteria in laundering and drying will automatically improve sanitation of linens and clothing.

Handout J: Nine Basic Steps to Good Laundering

1. Sort carefully
2. Pre-treat before washing
3. Use correct wash temperature
4. Use right type and amount of laundry products
5. Know the washer and how to use it
6. Use correct washing action
7. Rinse clothes thoroughly
8. Dry clothes properly
9. Hang or fold laundry neatly

General Laundry Procedures Sequencing Cards

Table 9. 

Read labels on clothing

Read labels on laundry products

Carefully sort as to color, soil, fabric type, and tendency to lint

Check for stains and pre-treat

According to labels decide on wash and rinse water temperatures and wash cycle

Add laundry products and let agitate a few seconds

Add clothes–do not overload

Promptly remove from washing machine

Read labels on clothing concerning drying

If using dryer, promptly remove and fold neatly or hang

Handout K: What Is My Purpose?

Table 10. 

Match the laundry product to its purpose

Soap

in soft water removes soils and stains

Detergent

removes, emulsifies, dissolves and suspends soil in a washing solution

Chlorine Bleach

helps to remove soil and stains and serves as a deodorizer and disinfectant

Oxygen Bleach

helps to remove soil and stains and can be used with all fabrics

Enzyme Presoak

helps remove heavy soils and stains, effective in removing protein stains

Fabric Softeners

decreases static cling, softens fabrics and reduces wrinkling

Handout L: Following Directions

Always use the recommended amount found on the detergent package. Adjust the amount for degree of soil, water hardness, and size of load.

Carefully follow the directions found on the care label of the garment.

Handout M: Water Temperatures

Use HOT water for:

  • Non delicate whites

  • 100% cotton items that will not shrink or wrinkle

  • Heavily soiled items

Use WARM water for:

  • Colors

  • Items that will not fade

Use COLD water for:

  • Permanent Press

  • Delicates

  • Wool

  • Items that will fade

Handout N: Preparing Laundry

  • Close zippers, hooks and eyes

  • Shake out loose dirt, check pockets and cuffs

  • Mend rips and tears

  • Turn permanent press garments inside out to prevent pilling and linting

  • Remove non-washable items such as belts

Handout O: Sorting Laundry

Sort by:

Color - separate whites from all colors.

Fabric, construction, texture - Read care instructions. Delicate fabrics need gentle agitation.

Permanent press needs special cycles to prevent wrinkling. Separate lint givers, such as terry cloth, from lint takers, such as synthetics or corduroy.

Degree of soil - Wash lightly soiled items separately from heavily soiled ones.

Handout P: Pre-treating Laundry

Always remove spots and stains. Use a pre-wash spray for some or refer to a stain removal chart for more difficult ones. Rub liquid detergent into heavily soiled articles.

Pre-soak heavily soiled items. Use a pre-soak product for 30 minutes or overnight. Drain the soak water and wash as usual.

Handout Q: A First Aid Kit for Clothing

Alcohol
Ammonia
Amyl acetate or fingernail polish remover
Bleach
Detergent
Dry cleaning solvent
Enzyme pre-soak
Glycerine
Pre-wash product
Rust remover
Wet spotter
White vinegar

Part 4: Safety

Activity 1: General Home Safety

Introduction:

Feeling safe to move around in their home is critically important to the well-being of elderly clients. As a companion, we can help check for safety hazards and seek ways to improve safety.

DO:

  • Give each participant the Household Safety Checklist, (Handout R), to do at their house/apartment.

REFLECT:

  • What did you find? Were there areas which needed attention?

APPLY:

  • How would you handle areas which need attention when working with your elderly client?

  • Distribute a second copy of Handout R, Household Safety Checklist, from the US Consumer Product Safety Commission. Have participants work in teams to identify recommended changes or improvements in the safety of their homes.

Handout R: Household Safety Checklist

Use this sheet to determine if your home/client’s home is safe.

Yes - No Checklist

____ ____ 1. Do stairs/steps have a sturdy banister or handrail?
____ ____ 2. Are stairs, halls, and exits free from clutter?
____ ____ 3. Are stairs well lighted?
____ ____ 4. Can you switch lights on at both top and bottom of stairs?
____ ____ 5. Are all throw rugs eliminated or tacked down completely?
____ ____ 6. Are all frayed spots in rugs mended?
____ ____ 7. Is there a flashlight or nightlight by the bed?
____ ____ 8. Is the kitchen well-lighted, particularly by the stove?
____ ____ 9. Do warning lights on stove indicate which burner is lit?
____ ____ 10. Do electrical appliances meet safety standards?
____ ____ 12. Are cleaning fluids, polishes, bleaches, detergents, and all poisons stored separately and clearly marked?
____ ____ 13. Is there a grab bar by the tub or shower and toilet?
____ ____ 14. Are non-slip rubber mats in the tub or shower?
____ ____ 15. Are electrical cords and plugs in good repair without worn places?
____ ____ 16. Are walkways free of electrical cords?
____ ____ 17. Is there an escape plan in case of fire, with alternate routes to safety?
____ ____ 18. Is furniture arranged in an uncluttered path within and between rooms?
____ ____ 19. Are medicines for external use stored separately from those for internal use?
____ ____ 20. Is there a first aid kit available at all times?
____ ____ 21. Are emergency numbers clearly posted by the phones?

Activity 2: Safety in the Kitchen

Introduction:

The kitchen is one room where there is a lot of potential for safety violations and injury. It is important to be alert to potential dangers and take steps to correct them. In general, these dangers can be eliminated without the expenditure of money. It only takes a few seconds to take the proper steps to eliminate potential hazards.

DO:

  • Show the transparency created from Handout A, Clean? Safe?, and tell the participants to refer to it. Ask them to identify hazards which are shown. Make a listing on a chalkboard and/or flip chart.

  • Ask clients to identify corrective measures which should be used to make this kitchen scene safer. Write the correction next to the hazard.

  • Give each participant a copy of Handout S, Check Sheet on Kitchen Hazards, and ask them to answer the questions for themselves.

REFLECT:

  • Why is it important to take corrective measures to remove hazards in the kitchen?

  • What are the areas where you personally need to improve your safety practices in the kitchen?

APPLY:

  • How will you put this information to use in your home?

  • How will you use this information in your work as an elder companion?

Handout S: Check Sheet on Kitchen Hazards

Do you?

Yes No

( ) ( ) 1. Keep pot and pan handles turned toward back of stove.

( ) ( ) 2. Avoid clothes with long flowing sleeves that may easily catch on pot handles and/or cause burns.

( ) ( ) 3. Clean up spills on floors right away to prevent falling.

( ) ( ) 4. Avoid broken or chipped cooking utensils or serving pieces.

( ) ( ) 5. Turn off the range and oven when not in use.

( ) ( ) 6. Check electrical cords on appliances from time to time for worn places. Replace if needed.

( ) ( ) 7. Avoid overloading electric outlets. Unplug those appliances that are not in use.

( ) ( ) 8. Dry hands before using electrical appliances.

( ) ( ) 9. Have gas ranges checked by gas company from time to time.

( ) ( ) 10. Store knives with care.

( ) ( ) 11. Keep a box of baking soda near the stove to use in case of grease fire.

Footnotes

1.

This document is FCS5251, one of a series of the Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date September 1999. Revised June 2015. Visit the EDIS website at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu.

2.

Elizabeth B. Bolton, professor emerita; and Muthusami Kumaran, assistant professor; Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.


The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.